Otranto, the city that overlooks the homonymous strait, the Italian city most moved to the eastern sector, is a fortified city, whose ancient village is enclosed by the defensive walls that allow access through the Porta Alfonsina inside.
The geographical position has in fact always been a double-edged sword, an opportunity but also a threat to the city:
often it was the scene of invasions and conflicts aimed at the occupation of the area, which for a long time represented the shopping center of Salento.
It worth to remember that, due to its geographical position, it was the Salento municipality that paid the most violence in Muhammad II in terms of Christian martyrs.
It is an old military fortress designed by Ciro Ciri and built between 1485 and 1498 by Fernando I D’Aragona, based on military constructions already present by first Swabians and then by Turks. The castle has a pentagonal plan, surrounded by a protective moat, has three cylindrical corner towers and a large coat of arms belonging to Charles V above the main entrance.
It is currently used as a splendid theater for exhibitions and cultural events.
From the square where the castle stands, located in the east of the city, the labyrinth of alleys and alleys, which constitute the ancient village, begins to branch off, the oldest and most characteristic part of the city. Walking along these streets gives the impression of being brought back in time, with the houses, the stairways, the courtyards, the shops, the atmosphere of the past.
It is a pleasure to untangle yourself among the thousand little streets, discover hidden corners and enjoy the hospitality of the people of Otranto.
Indeed each corner then presents its wonder: a church, a view of the sea, a detail to be found.
Not far from the Castle there is the Cathedral of Santa Maria Annunziata, another fantastic work of immense artistic and historical value, dating back to the eleventh century: the church in fact preserves the remains of the massacre of 800 faithful who during the invasion of the Turks in 1480 resistance not wanting to deny their faith.
The massacre of the martyrs of Otranto is one of the most painful and sad pages in the city and to admire the Martyrs’ Chapel inside the Cathedral is a very special experience.
Another treasure in the church is the floor mosaic, a true masterpiece depicting the Tree of Life, and considered by many experts to be an encyclopaedia of Christianity.
In fact, it shows many episodes of the Old Testament and in general the path that man must perform in order to purify himself from original sin and achieve eternal salvation;
it also contains many pagan references and numerous traces of the symbolic historical role that Otranto played as a bridge between the West and the East.
But Otranto is much more than this and it is a pleasure to get lost in its small streets full of shops near the sea.
I enclose an interesting link for a 1 day visit (in Italian): What to see in Otranto in 1 day
Or the classic Tripadvisor website: Otranto – Link to Tripadvisor
LAGHI ALIMINI AND PORTO BADISCO
Today the Alimini area presents itself as a pleasant place, with immense pinewoods and enchanting beaches, above all for its clear sea and the expanses of sandy dunes.
In the past it was the hunting reserve of Frederick II and the Aragonese. The subsequent abandonment turned it into a swampy and unhealthy place, reclaimed only at the beginning of the twentieth century. Today it presents in all their splendor two lakes, the Alimini Grande and the Alimini Piccolo, destination of international tourism for the beautiful Mediterranean scrub, for the sandy dunes that, sometimes, reach the 12 meters and the incomparable blue of its sea.
Legend said that Aeneas stopped here during his journey.
This beautiful town, fraction of Otranto, is a small town, inhabited by fishermen, which in the summer months turns into a pole of attraction of international attraction.
Built between Punta Scuru and Capo Palascia, according to the Latin poet Virgilio was the first Mediterranean port touched by the Trojan hero Enea, fleeing from his hometown.
Famous is its Cave de Cervi that housed about 4,000 years ago a human settlement.
Its coves and ravines are very beautiful, of which the Marmitta dei Giganti is worthy of note.